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You may not think that ‘Santorini’ and ‘budget’ go together. Well nether did I until I visited the beautiful Greek Island of Santorini recently. Don’t get me wrong, Santorini can be an expensive destination, those cave hotels in the side of Oia do not come cheap and now that it’s so popular with honeymooners there are even more luxuries in Santorini on offer. However Santorini has alternative, cheap accommodation, it has lots of free activities, a cheap public bus system and plenty of places to go for happy hour. Perfect for a backpacker or holidaymaker on a budget in Greece!
I was in Santorini on a Travel Talk Tour, previous to Santorini we had been in Mykonos and the price of drinks and food there really shocked me because it was expensive! Our guide told us at the start of the trip that although Santorini is more visited than Mykonos, Santorini is actually cheaper than Mykonos! This surprised me too, but I was glad to hear it and after visiting both islands I can tell you it’s true!
Based on my time in Santorini and the helpful knowledge of Marco Polo’s Santorini Guide Book that I took with me, here is how you can visit Santorini on a budget!
Santorini has an airport so it’s a no brainer to check out flights on Skyscanner to and from Santorini. However because of Santorini’s popularity and location these are most likely to be quite expensive.
Even if you don’t plan on visiting Athens (although I recommend you do as I loved it, you can read here why I loved Athans), I would recommend looking at flying into Athens and then getting a second flight to Santorini instead of a direct flight to Santorini as it may be cheaper.
Alternatively, a brilliant way to get to and from Santorini is by ferry from Athens! I got a ferry from Mykonos to Santorini and another from Santorini to Ios and it’s possible to get a ferry from Athens to Santorini which is probably the best budget option. I found the boats in Greece to be comfy and really good boats.
Let’s Ferry is a great website to use to book your boats in Greece on, it’s best to book in advance to make sure you get the best price and as you can see the prices really do vary. I bet the €33.00 tickets don’t last long!
My biggest tip on how to keep prices down on a trip to Santorini is not to stay in the popular town of Oia. Instead choose Fira which is the capital of the island. Oia is amazing and well worth a visit but it’s so busy and touristy and honestly, money aside, in my opinion it is better to stay in Fira anyway.
Fira has a really great vibe, it still has gorgeous buildings and a great sunset spot but it also benefits from plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars that are not as ‘glam’ as in Oia, aka, their prices are lower.
We stayed in the New Haroula Hotel in Fira and I really liked it. The rooms were nice, it’s in a great location with a good swimming pool, an ok breakfast, and prices are around £80-£100.00 a night for a twin/double room. £50.00 per person per night in Santorini isn’t bad is it and not what you might expect if you thought that all hotels were hundreds of pounds a night! You can check availability here!
Also, Santorini has hostels! Lots of them too. Santorini is set up for backpackers backpacking the Greek Islands! I can’t recommend any hostels personally but Booking.com (which I use to book my accommodation) and Hostelworld.com are showing a great selection of hostels in Santorini so head there to check them out!
Camping is also an option in Santorini. Santorini Camping is located just out of Fira, it’s recommended in Marco Polo’s guide book and I was told by one of my twitter followers that she stayed there and really liked it!
Additionally, you really don’t need to stay in Santorini that long, if you’re on a trip around Europe or around the Greek Islands, 2-4 Days in Santorini is enough.
If you really want to stay in Oia though, have a look at these cheap hotels in Oia Santorini!
Any good budget destination needs to have some free things to do and Santorini does. Santorini has some unique free things to do which I found with the help of my Marco Polo Santorini Guide Book.
Take a ferry to Thirasia – Within the guide it says that early morning on almost every day of the week, a small boat ferries tourists and workers from Oia to Riva on the neighbouring island of Thirasia. This is a free ferry service and returns back to Oia in the afternoon. Thirasia used to be part of Santorini before the volcanic eruption, it’s very tranquil and offers great views of Santorini.
Wine Tasting in a quaint Village – Santorini is full of wineries which I didn’t expect either and the tiny Gavalas Winery in the small village of Megalochori invites visitors to taste their wines for free!
Walk from Fira to Oia – One way to save on transport costs (more on those below) and really see the island is to walk from Fira to Oia. It will take a good few hours and this is something I really wish I had done!
Visit the Excavations of Ancient Thera – From November to March on every first Sunday of the month the Excavations are open to the public for free.
Visit the Beaches – An obvious one but Santorini has so many beaches including a red beach and many black beaches. It’s also worth noting that on most beaches in Santorini the sunbeds are free as long as you have a drink or food at the restaurant who owns them which means you can get a drink or just something small to eat if you don’t want to spend much money.
Related Post: 21 Must See Beaches in Corfu Island, Greece!
Hire a Quad Bike – This isn’t free and it’s not really budget but if you’re going to spend money on an activity in Santorini I would really recommend hiring a quad bike in Santorini to explore one of the best islands in Europe. We got a bike for 24 hours for €40.00 and filled it up with €10.00 worth of petrol so between 2 people the cost wasn’t that high. We had so much fun driving around and you can read about where to go and my tips for hiring a quad bike in Santorini in this post.
The Marco Polo Santorini Guide Book also suggests resisting being sold an organised excursion because most places can be visited on your own by public bus or taxi often cheaper than a tour if there are a few of you, and I certainly agree with this based on my experience in Santorini.
Eating in Santorini doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s the same as the accommodation, sure there are plenty of fancy restaurants but it is possible to get lunch for around €5.00-10.00 and a good main meal for €7.00-12.00, if not less. Plus Gyro’s become your best friend when in Greece on a budget as they are just a couple of euro, so filling and so good!
If you want some specific places to eat in Santorini on a budget the following recommendations plus more are in the Santorini Marco Polo Guide Book:
The Stamnas Taverna in Fira
Souvlaki Stop in Kamari
Gyro Place in Persia
Thomas Grill in Oia
The Blue Sky in Oia
When it comes to drinking and nightlife, if you want a good night out be sure to visit Fira! We got beers from the shop to watch the sunset with which are only around €2.00 each for a big can of Mythos beer. I would then recommend checking out the happy hours on offer as they run until quite late into the evening.
In the bars drinks are a bit more, especially cocktails so sticking to beer is more budget friendly as it is everywhere but the prices are still nothing like Mykonos!
Santorini has a really good public bus system which I didn’t expect and therefore makes it really cheap to visit and get around Santorini. There is a public bus that runs from the main port to Fira so that ensures you do not need to get a taxi from the port to where you’re staying. The public bus also serves the whole island including the popular places of Fira, Oia, Kamari, Perissa. Tickets are either €1.80 or €2.30 one way depending on the journey.
For more information have a look at the public bus website here.
I hope this post helps show you that you can visit Santorini on a budget! I was pleasantly surprised when I got there and realised this, although it made me annoyed because I could have visited earlier than I did!
To SEE my trip to Santorini and to help convince you that you need to visit, have a look at my YouTube video:
For more of my Greece posts see:
This post is in collaboration with Marco Polo Guides however all opinions and thoughts are my own and I really like their guides. This posts also contains affiliate links but at no extra cost to you.